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Apple Fusion Drive – What is it and what the *#%@ do we do with it? [CONFIRMED]

Data Tiering.
It has been around for a while now, but Apple – as with a lot of other technology – is the first to offer it to the consumers, and not to enterprises alone. You can – for example – get Data Tiering in “BeyondRaid” data storage solutions, like Drobo.

So what’s the diff? 

With Data Tiering, the data is never in more than one location – it’s fundamentally different from caching that way. If you loose the cache, no big deal, but if you loose a tier, you’re in trouble. (All the more reason to keep Time Machine running, ey?)

This is both a Pro and a Con; data-caching does not get you higher capacity, only higher speed, data-Tiering gets you both, but data-Tiering does not give you a fallback in case the high-speed tier drops out. Data-caching does.

Now then, what do we do with it, and why do we care?

Well, we want speed. Incredible speed. Waiting 2 minutes for an App to start is so 1999. We want it fast and we want it 20 seconds ago! But we also want more and more, we can’t live with “just” 128 or 256 GB of storage, we desperately need those terabytes.

We could get a Seagate Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid drive (damn, what a name); that would give you 750GB of storage with 8GB of SSD cache. Total storage is 750GB.

For desktop computers (not Apple at the moment) there is the Intel Smart Response Technology which gives us the same effect in separate components; 1 HDD + 1 SSD + the correct main board and we’re done. But combining the 1 TB with a 64 GB (supposedly the maximum size) still gets you 1 TB of storage. Nothing more, nothing less.

Microsoft ReadyBoost provides similar technology by utilizing an USB flash drive as a cache.
(read on, only one more page of ranting :P)

Author: Remon Pel

WebDeveloper though not WebDesigner

6 thoughts on “Apple Fusion Drive – What is it and what the *#%@ do we do with it? [CONFIRMED]”

  1. Well, this weekend i achieved a working Fusion drive on my “old” Imac (late 2009). I replaced the internal HD with a larger disk, replaced the optical drive with a 128GB SSD.
    Did the software configuration, installed TRIM support (needed for aftermarket SSD’s) and my bootup time is now 20 seconds !!!!!
    Fusion drive rocks ! (and can work in older imacs)
    All frequently used apps start very fast.

  2. The software config was the most easy part. This went perfect like in the video. The hardware part is the most difficult in an Imac.
    After a week working with a Fusion Drive, everything else is slow :)
    After the official warranty period i will do the same upgrade to my macbook.

  3. In your post you mention that Fusion Drive is file-based. In fact, all currently available data indicates that it is actually a block-based technology, only copying the most used data on a block by block basis. This theoretically has significant ramifications for performance, security, and reliability.

    1. You are absolutely right about FD being a block-based technology, but I think you are wrong about the ramifications for performance, security and reliability.
      Reliability: this is no more reliable or unreliable than a Raid 0 (striping) setup.
      Security: the security of any filesystem is OS based, this is no different. I can choose to do full-system-encryption on a FD so a complete set of a FD-“array” is secure, and as any striped volume setup, without the other, the one is useless. Sure you can get bits and pieces, but that’s always the case.
      Finally: performance: Well, no SSD part is slower than some SSD part and if you need ALL of the file often, then ALL of the file will be on the SSD. No problem there.

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